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The Clermont Forum II: Interpreting Clermont's History Through Art

The Rotating History Project, in cooperation with The Clermont Foundation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, is taking proposals for The Foundation’s forthcoming triennial Interpretive Forum, an exhibition entitled "The Clermont Forum II: Interpreting Clermont's History Through Art". The six week show is scheduled to open Sunday, April 20, 2014, in the historic buildings on the grounds of Clermont, an 18th century 360-acre farmstead in Clarke County, Virginia, in the northern Shenandoah Valley, located 2 hours outside of Baltimore and 1 hour from DC.

This multimedia, site-specific exhibition is the second in a series of major public interpretive events presented triennially at Clermont, the first having been a series of publicly-presented, commissioned academic research papers, with local response and discussion. The proposed exhibition is seen as an equivalent but different approach to imaginatively engaging the public with the history of the site. The six-week exhibition will also include presentations and panels with artists, local people, historians and others about Clermont’s history and its relationship to public history today.

Clermont Farm is a well-preserved complex of buildings ranging in date from 1755 to the mid-twentieth century. Formerly in the hands of only four families since its original survey by an 18-year old George Washington in 1750, and previously used by Native Americans for game production and hunting lands, the farm is now owned by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and managed by The Clermont Foundation.  Clermont remains a working farm, involved with local food production and agricultural education, as well as a state historic site currently under intensive study.

Its historical importance lies in the continuity of its life, the fact that it is a microcosm of the entire history of the Shenandoah Valley, and that it was a “middling” plantation, which unlike the great “gentry” plantations of Virginia and Maryland, have been very little studied.  In addition to its on-going use as a study site and production farm, initial partnerships have been developed with the local Clarke County Public Schools (supporting agricultural education with its working farm), a residential special education facility, the local Parks and Rec Department, a network of local historical organizations, and several universities.

The history of Clermont is a continuous history of various peoples using and living on the land, sometimes peacefully and sometimes in violent conflict, a micro-history of America.  The exhibition seeks to explore a period of time beginning with the settlement of the Atlantic coast by Europeans, the last period when native Americans were still the primary inhabitants, and still shaping the landscape, a place taken by Europeans, who in turn brought enslaved Africans to the same landscape.  The goal of "The Clermont Forum II: Interpreting Clermont's History Through Art" is to invite artists to explore and create site-specific works that draw on any number of the topics specific to Clermont’s history. These core topics include:

  • Agriculture and Rural Life
  • Clermont and African American History
  • Clermont and Native American History
  • Women’s Roles
  • Architecture and Material Culture
  • Legal History, Medicine, and Clermont
  • Military History
  • Community (Public) History

Artists will be invited to install work in a variety of locations on the property including:

  • The Owner’s House (1755-1970)
  • The Slave and Farm Worker’s House (1822)
  • The Smoke House (1802)
  • The Bank Barn (1917)
  • The surrounding grounds

Artists accepted for participation in the exhibition, based on their interests, will be granted access to and encouraged to utilize the archival resources connected to Clermont’s history, to research papers completed by historians for a 2011 panel exploring the core topics above, and to a new documentary and visual history of the buildings just being completed. They will also have access to transcribed oral histories, and to local residents who worked on the farm, knew its last private owners, or had other connections with it.  Connections with artists working in the local area will also be part of the program.  This summer, artists accepted for participation will be invited to a one-day weekend open house and lunch at the Farm to introduce them to the site and its resources.

All mediums are welcomed, including 2D and 3D, film, music, installation, performances, lectures and all other forms of writing/dialogue, such as oral histories.

"The Clermont Forum II: Interpreting Clermont's History Through Art" is part of a larger group of happenings organized by the Rotating History Project. Through a variety of artistic mediums, the Rotating History Project aims to draw attention to the threads running through our history, culture and environment, which remain relevant to our ever-evolving society today.

Artists are encouraged to take part in events to be located at Clermont on the opening date of Sunday, April 20, 2014 and the closing date of Sunday, June 1, 2014. Chosen artists will be provided with a predetermined stipend to offset costs of materials and travel Artists must be able to deliver visual representations of their work (this could be a detail or study) by Monday, February 17, 2014 to be included in an exhibition catalogue.

Artists must be able to deliver work and installation artists must be able to install work on a yet to be determined set of dates in the last week of March or first week of April, 2014.

Proposals should be sent via email and include a description of the intended project in 250 words or less. While prospective artists will not be allowed to visit the property in advance of acceptance, artists are encouraged to contact The Rotating History Prospect for additional information and materials that might assist them in forming proposals and shaping their ideas. Please include the proposal description in the body of the email, rather than as an attachment. Proposals should specify what themes noted above they wish to explore, as well as what specific locations (as noted above) on the property they envision their work in. Sending a resume is optional.

Artists may choose to include attachments of jpeg or PDF images of proposed work OR jpegs/PDFs of up to 5 previous work.  Images should be under 2 megabits in size. For proposed projects based in the written medium, please submit a writing sample of up to five pages. Art related to performance or video may be submitted via mail on a DVD. All proposals and jpeg/PDFs should be emailed to rotatinghistoryartproject@gmail.com by Friday June 7, 2013.

All DVDs must be postmarked by Friday June 7, 2013 and mailed to Attn: Teddy Johnson/Heather Rounds, 717 Homestead St, Baltimore, MD 21218. For additional information and updates please visit: http://rotatinghistoryproject.org http://www.clermontfarm.org/